Sunday, August 30, 2009

Our Adoption Story

August 18, 2005 was a day like any other day. I woke up, got ready for work, and with a few minutes to spare, thought I would spend a few minutes talking to God. I prayed for the usual…thank you for all that you have given me, be with Evan today, help me keep my sanity at work, and by the way, please send us a baby soon. In the meantime, keep our child safe and give us an opportunity tell his or her birth family about you. Amen. It was the same prayer I had been praying for the last two years since deciding to give up on fertility treatments. Adoption was something that had always been on my list of lifelong to-dos: get married, have a few children and then spend the rest of my life rescuing children from orphanages and the nightmares of abuse and neglect. Obviously, my dream of having a few children biologically never became a reality. But God took those crushed dreams and gallons of tears cried and turned it into something more beautiful that I could have ever imagined.

When my husband and I seriously began looking into adoption, we were met with a huge obstacle. Gone were the days when pregnant women were secretly matched with a family that would take their child, and neither would ever hear of the other again. There was this new thing, called open adoption. We desperately sought an agency that wasn’t doing this new-fangled adoption, but were continually told that this was the best way to go. We prayed and finally settled on Buckner Adoption and Maternity Services, located in Dallas. They too were pushing the open adoption plans, but we decided that we would go to the orientation and agree with them if it meant we could finally be parents. Open adoption was okay for some, but staying in touch with a birth family – NO WAY!

After our first meeting with Buckner, the Lord began to soften our hearts. We still were not sold on the idea, but felt like we at least needed to educate ourselves if we were going to completely refuse the idea. We began to read some of the books Buckner had suggested and began to see some of the benefits of open adoption. We began the long, long process of filling out paperwork, getting references, medical records, extensive and personal interviews with social workers. In February of 2005, we attended a two-day seminar at Buckner where we learned the legal aspects of adoption, dealing with our own grief caused by infertility, and a little about what the birth family goes through. On the second day of the seminar, we got to meet a real family living open adoption. The adoptive family told their story and then the birth mother came in and told hers. God began to show us the beauty that can come from these relationships. From that point on, it has been open adoption for us.

Ok, so back to August 18, 2005. We had finished all of our paperwork and all we were lacking to be officially approved and waiting for a match was our final home study meeting…and that was scheduled for the following week. At about 11:30 that morning, one of my supervisors told me I had a phone call from Buckner. I figured there was a problem with some paperwork, but to my surprise, it wasn’t our social worker, but one of the maternity counselors. She told me that they had a birth mother due in two weeks and would it be ok if they showed her and the birth father our profile. There were several medical and personal issues that we had to consider, so I hung up, burst into tears, and then called my husband at work. After two days of hard praying, we decided that letting them seem our profile didn’t necessarily mean that this was the “one.” God still had the capability to close this door. We gave the okay and on Saturday, the maternity counselor flew to Amarillo to give them our profile. By Monday morning, we were driving to Amarillo to meet them in person and decide if this would be a good match for all involved. I think a blind date with a three-eyed monster would have been less nerve-racking. As we were driving to the church to meet them, all we could think was, “What are we thinking?” After spending most of Monday afternoon and evening with them, we decided to meet once more in the morning before heading home. It was SO hard not to get our hopes up, because we knew that nothing was definite. When we left on Tuesday, the birth mother told us she had an OB check-up the next day and she would call us and let us know how it went. That was a good sign.

Fast forward to August 25 – the phone rang at 3:30 in the morning. It was the birth father calling from the back of an ambulance. A’s water had broken and this was it. At this point we figured we had made the cut, so we literally threw clothes and the few baby things we had into the car and sped to Amarillo. We arrived about 12:30 and were able to spend a few hours in the hospital room with J and A, as well as some of their family and friends. At 4:26, our daughter was born. There were some complications during the delivery, so she was rushed to the NICU. We then began the waiting game to see if J and A would follow through with their adoption plan. We prayed, cried, and cried with them. While Mia was in the NICU, J and A allowed us to visit her, which made the wait even more difficult. This was still their baby, and they wanted to keep her more than anything in the world. But more than their own desires, they wanted more for her. On August 29, 2005, J and A signed the paperwork allowing us to bring home Mia Grace to be our daughter. It was the happiest and saddest day of my life. There are no words to describe the amount of guilt I felt. As much as I wanted to be a Mom, I felt like screaming, “Wait, are you sure you want to do this?”

We have a completely open adoption with Mia’s birth family. They know where we live, have been to our house, and even stayed in our guest room one night. We talk to them frequently on the phone, send pictures of Mia, and visit them in Amarillo. There is nothing legally binding about our agreement. At any point, we could back out and they would have no legal recourse. However, we made a commitment to them and to Mia. It’s not always the easiest of relationships, and there are times I have cried myself to sleep wishing to be a “normal” family. But like any Mom, I would do anything for my child. Once people know we have an open adoption, the number one question is, “Don’t you feel like you are sharing her?” Nope! I get all the firsts; all the sloppy kisses, the morning hugs, and years of everyday life with Mia. If I can’t afford her birth family a few days a year, after all they have given us, what does that say about me? What does that say about Christianity to those that don’t know Christ?

There is SO much more to this story. I would be happy to answer questions about open adoption. Open adoption is not for everyone. I believe you have to be called to it. But it is so rewarding and I wouldn’t trade our relationship with Mia’s birth family for anything.